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Primary school pupils are being prepared to work in the 21st century

A survey of 300 Irish primary schools said access to high speed broadband is an obstacle.

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OVER 98% of primary teachers said that using technology in teaching helps prepare students for life and work in the 21st century.

In a survey of 300 Irish primary schools, who have registered to take part in the Digital School of Distinction programme, the access to high speed broadband, IT maintenance, support and funding were identified as the major obstacles to integrating ICT in the classroom.

Motivation 

Over 80% of teachers said that they strongly agreed that ICT used in teaching has a positive impact on student motivation.

Over 75% of teachers agreed that the Digital Schools of Distinction, which  provides a range of ICT supports for schools, including free printing for a year, Microsoft software and educational apps as well as technical support and access to education ICT specialists, has created momentum in the use of digital skills by teachers.

Launching its second year, the programme which is supported by HP Ireland and Microsoft Ireland, confirmed that they will support the programme with €200,000 in funding this year.

More than 137 schools have already been awarded Digital School of Distinction status in Ireland and it is expected that a further 300 schools will be awarded during this academic year. Plans are also in place to expand the programme into Northern Ireland and the UK in 2015.

Technology integration 

To become a Digital School of Distinction, schools must display that they have a a whole-school ICT policy that outlines a vision and strategy and conveys a positive attitude towards the use of ICT. It must also be integrated across the curriculum.

Speaking in Limerick at Scoil Íosagáin which today became the first new Digital School of Distinction to be awarded in this academic year, Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan said she is delighted to see that the number of schools registering and receiving their accreditation is continuing to increase steadily.

The programme supports the advancement of the ICT agenda in the classroom and is making a practical contribution to helping schools make the most of their digital capabilities. It also supports the objectives of the government’s Digital Strategy for Schools which will be finalised in the coming months.

“As the economy shows clear signs of a return to growth it is more important than ever that we in industry do what we can to help equip young people with digital skills so that they can participate fully in the economy of the future,” said Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland.

Basic IT to coding 

“From basic IT literacy all the way up to coding – these are increasingly becoming basic requirements for young people to engage fully in society and later in the economy. We are delighted with the success of this programme to date and with the fact that it is helping keeping the issue of digital skills and IT access on the agenda while at a practical level helping to raise the awareness and skills amongst teachers and pupils throughout the country,” said Hallahan.

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